Welcome to #TBT, our new weekly trip down memory lane, highlighting throwback lesbian events every Thursday.
The 1998 HBO biographical feature film starring Angelina Jolie “Gia” made me gay. I know we like to say that “gay” is not contagious, but that’s just not true. I, Zara Barrie, caught “the gay” from the movie “Gia.” If you’re a bigot who doesn’t like us homos, don’t let your daughter watch “Gia,” especially at an impressionable age.
Maybe my immune system is just particularly vulnerable to homosexuality. Or maybe I was born a surefire dyke, it had just been lying dormant in my hormonal 12-year-old body for years, and “Gia” triggered it. Either way, I’m elated things turned out the way they did. I just love being ~lez~ (read my Lesbian Social Diary, and you’ll wish you were queer, too).
I rented “Gia” from Blockbuster (RIP) in the eighth grade, because I had just seen “Girl, Interrupted” in the movie theatre, and was suddenly feeling wildly confused about my sexuality. Something about all those beautiful, complicated women locked up together in a high-end East Coast mental ward had really set my adolescent libido on fire.
“I wonder if I’m bisexual?” I asked myself as I replayed the scene where Angie and Winona kiss briefly on the lips in my head, again and again and again. I mean, I couldn’t be fully gay, I had a boyfriend. His name was Drew and he was extremely popular and wore so much Tommy Hilfiger cologne that he smelled like the cosmetics aisle in a department store. We were voted cutest couple on our middle school gossip website (that I secretly co-ran with my friend Steve).
And then I watched “Gia.” I was all alone, thank GOD, because I don’t think I would have ever recovered from the trauma of watching all those lesbian sex scenes in front of my parents.
My parents had gone out to dinner that night, and I was perched on the couch, staring at the TV, wide-eyed and bewildered in my pink Juicy Couture velour sweatsuit, pizza grease dripping down my acne-adorned face. All I knew about the movie—prior to watching it—was that it was the true story of the supermodel Gia Marie Carangi who tragically died due to AIDS-related complications 1986. I had no idea there was a lesbian storyline. I had no idea the real Gia was a lesbian and I had no idea that Angie J was an out bisexual (I probably would have lost my pre-teen mind)!
I was immediately in love with Angelina’s portrayal of Gia. She was a true badass. She had that rare “I don’t give a fuck” energy. That scene where she whipped out a knife and carved her name into the bitchy secretary’s desk at the modeling agency? I was intoxicated. I didn’t know about the term “swag;” all I knew was that I was feeling an overwhelming attraction and I couldn’t quite figure out what it was (now I know it’s the swaggy-queer-girl energy).
And then came the famous scene. The scene where Gia and her blonde, oh-so-innocent-looking makeup artist engage in a very, uh, erotic nude photo-shoot that leads to some very erotic dyke sex. My jaw dropped onto my mother’s Persian rug. I had to pick it up off the ground and place it back into my mouth. My heart stopped beating. And then began to pound hard. Harder than a hammer drilling a nail into the walls of a pre-war building. I felt a tingle crawl up my leg, working its way into my inner thigh. The tingle quickly transformed into the full-body explosion of a newfound sex drive.
I knew in that moment I was gay. Gay as fuck.
Anytime I’m hanging around a group of seasoned lezzies like me, and I bring up the movie “Gia,” everyone roars, “OH, ‘GIA,’ THAT MOVIE CHANGED MY LIFE,” all at once. We all drool until our eyes roll into the backs of our heads, and perv out on how hot Angie is, and what an impact the movie had on our little lesbian lives. This usually leads to us reenacting scenes from the movie (not the sex ones, I wish!) like when Angie busts through the window and screams “I, like, KICKED Spiderman’s ASS!”
So yes, “Gia” is more than worthy of a Throwback Thursday moment. Not only did that film teach me a lot about drug addiction, the AIDS epidemic, and the world of fashion and modeling, it validated all the feelings that had been stewing inside of me. It was the first time I saw lesbian sex that wasn’t porn (yes, at the age of 12 I had watched porn. I’ve been curious about sex since I came spiraling out of the womb). It was the first time I saw lesbian sex that was passionate, intimate, and with women I identified with.
The porn stars were all blonde and spray-tanned and their performances weren’t convincing, even to an eighth grader who had never had sex. Gia was dark and tattooed and pale. I identified with her, even though I was in the eighth grade and didn’t have tattoos (nor was I cool or beautiful like Gia). But Gia was different, and I knew I was different, so watching that film was a “windows and mirrors” experience. It was a window into the kind of love I could experience one day, and it was a reflection of how I felt toward women inside.
And of course, I later became obsessed with the real Gia Marie Carangi. The beautiful force of queer-girl nature who changed the game for all of us. RIP Gia. You have no idea the impact you’ve had on all of us.
So tell me, babes, did you see “Gia?” Did it turn you gay? Or was the Gina Gershon movie “Bound” responsible for your sexuality? Comment! Let us know! Your suggestion might be next week’s #TBT!